Free Fiction Friday: The Ratter by Kay Tracy

The Ratter by Kay Tracy

I remember the first time. A warm late spring day in Lake Charles. It was humid and sticky. I did not like it, it was very ” unpleasant”, but momma insisted. “Too many to feed” she told me. “You won’t be eatin’ them when they are grown so…” I was six. I had no idea how to do this. This tiny baby rabbit, one of 6. I asked momma how I should do it. “I don’t care!” she said “You just go handle it girl!”

I was known as a curious child. By that I mean I was always looking in books, and encyclopedias to learn new things. I experimented. A lot. Momma mostly left me alone then. I think she might have been just a little afraid by the time I was ten. Did you know that alligators like the taste of rabbit? Among other things.

I had a nickname, though folks never used it to my face. I knew they called me ‘the Ratter’. I really didn’t mind. They paid me to deal with their “pests”. Sometimes they paid me very well. It wasn’t so bad now. You just had to figure out what the best type of bait was. The rest was usually quick, and almost too easy. I told myself way back when I was six, that “If I ever stop caring about doing the killing part, I would stop doing it.”

Momma used to say I had a gift, that what I did was a service that folks needed. She said I should be glad she made me take that task when I was little. She might have been right.

Sometimes things take a little longer than others. That can lead to certain ‘odors’. I learned that ammonia can help with those. Not too much though, just enough to do the job. The real secret though, like I said, was the bait. All the difference in the world between working easy or hard is in the bait.

No one ever asks how, or when. I never ask why. All folks want to know is “How much?” I always ask about a ‘deadline’, and what sort of ‘pest’ they want me to take care of. It keeps me busy enough, and I like my big house and car.

Funny how some folks never had a momma to teach them that they should “Just go handle it!”
That’s okay by me though. I always take the time to do things right. I care about my work. I think it shows too!

Well. If you ever need my services, just contact me.


It Came From the Vault: Traditions by Stephen Kozeniewski



by Stephen Kozeniewski 

Granny clattered on the counter with a wooden spoon until the children stopped squabbling. When they finally turned to pay attention, she smiled, baring each and every bright white denture with joy.

“All right, little nuggets,” she said, “Now granny is going to show you what to do. Come up here.”

She lifted two-year-old Benji and planted him on the counter beside the sheer metal stockpot that was almost as tall as him.

“Now, Benji, this wax is very hot so don’t put your fingers in it and don’t splash.”

“Yes, grandma.”

“Now start to feed the coil in slowly and let me know when you run out of length.”

Giggling, Benji did as he was told.

“Granny, why do we wax the decorations?” little Suzie asked, her pinky hooked into the corner of her mouth.

“So that they last, my dear.”

“And why do we want them to last?”

Granny crouched down to Suzie’s level, even though it pained her ankles.

“Because it’s a tradition, my dear.”

Little Suzie’s eyes lit up with the wonder of excitement and recognition.

“A t’adition?”

Granny nodded.

“Like when we invite a homeless person in for Christmas?”

“That’s right.”

“All done!” Benji announced, clinging to the last link of this year’s holiday visitor’s small intestine.

Together, as they did every year, they draped the wax-dipped organ around their tree of horrors. The attic was starting to overflow with their collection of decorations.

“God bless us every one,” Benji said joyously.


Kozeniewski Author PhotoStephen Kozeniewski (pronounced “causin’ ooze key”) lives with his wife and two cats in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie. During his time as a Field Artillery officer, he served for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where due to what he assumes was a clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star. He is also a classically trained linguist, which sounds much more impressive than saying his bachelor’s degree is in German. Find out more at:

From the Vault: Audiodramas from started plugging in audiodramas every season in 2010 with the creation of GothHaus in Season 5. Now we have a way for you to listen to each drama in it’s entirety without searching through each episode to find them. We present to you 5 of our past audiodramas in full for your listening pleasure. Happy listening!

GothHaus, Season 1 circa 2010

GothHaus, Season 3: Gothmazing Race circa 2012

Black Magic, Season 1 circa 2013

End of the World Radio, Season 1 circa 2014

Black Jack, Season 1 circa 2015

Free Fiction Friday: Children of Doom by Alex S. Johnson

Children of Doom

by Alex S. Johnson

(An original story inspired by the song by St. Vitus, words and music by Dave Chandler)

They were young, so very young, when they passed through the spacegate.

Infants. Not physically or even intellectually, but emotionally–in their hearts and vision, the ways they had learned to respond to the world they came from.

It was a world built on pain. On tender openness met with fear, wrath, the strangest hostility. And this from the people who they called family. Mom and Dad. Aunt and Uncle. Sister and Brother.

Good citizens. Loyal friends. Faithful companions. But the children knew another side. The faces that smiled in public and bared their teeth in soundproofed privacy. A different kind of smile.

They were frozen behind their eyes, their faces made masks harder than jade. And when they wept–and they did weep–it was alone, knuckles pressed to hairless cheeks, clutching plush animals long ago outgrown, their only succor the blessed day their lives on earth would come to an end, or they managed to escape the present hell for the streets and alleyways where even more terrible predators lay in wait for them.

This further fate some of them knew, and then they prayed again. For death.

Their souls were snared in the sickly web of flashbulbs, in photographic images that stole the brilliance within them, leaving only husks of flesh.

Yet all that changed upon translation.

Walls of green marble, etched with the silver script of the arachnid gods, yawned to receive them.

They found themselves in an enormous vaulted gallery, the ceiling lost even to the memory of those that had built it.

Guards in uniforms made of blinding light stood on either side of a shattered throne black as the dreams of obsidian.

A bodiless voice spoke from the heart of that darkness, reaching into their minds. The voice knew of their secret sorrow, what they had endured and suffered. The things they had done and seen and been forced to witness, rituals of sickness carried out in suburban garages and sound-proofed chambers by Boy Scout troop leaders and pastors and priests, presidents of the local Chamber of Commerce, pillars of their communities. Children’s entertainers, clowns hawking paper cones stuffed with poisoned cotton candy.

The voice knew their anguish, and in some sinister way they couldn’t yet fathom, suffered and delighted in it simultaneously.

As they stood before the blackened throne, the guards swept wings like jagged lightning around and over them, and for the first time in their lives, they felt peace.

Comfort. Understanding.

For so long they had identified themselves with those who had hurt them. They didn’t dare feel the anger that was their right. But the kiss of the guardians’ wings bestowed something deeper than anger. And more frightening.

It was a cold feeling.

A feeling beyond mere hate or the will to vengeance.

Slowly they changed. Transformed. Were cloaked in an armor stronger than titanium.

The gates of chased silver opened once more in the cold marble wall.

Their return went unnoticed at first, simply because their bodies remained on earth, seemingly animated. But their souls no longer lived there.

The kids came in the dead of night.

With scythes of carved bone, blades of mirrors, luminous swords.

With steel and fire and howling weapons hewed from stars and blood and nightmare.

Wreaking an apocalypse unknown and unseen by the vast majority, those who had honored and protected the children in their care.

They took the predators to the places of private agony. The cork-lined rooms with walls of reinforced concrete. The basements where hung flesh-crusted chains, bricks soaked with suffocated screams.

Slowly, quietly, with infinite care, they returned the gifts of horror.

At first the adults pleaded. Cajoled. They knew they had done wrong, but they could change their ways. Life would be different from now on.

They were so very, very sorry for their crimes.

Until they couldn’t plea, or cajole, or speak through slashed throats, eye sockets weeping blood.

No remorse, no repentance, from the Children of Doom. They were deaf to the death rattle, the awful, high-pitched, animal screams.

At some level, they seemed to enjoy their work.

“‘O Oysters,’ said the Carpenter,

‘You’ve had a pleasant run!

Shall we be trotting home again?’

But answer came there none–

And this was scarcely odd, because

They’d eaten every one.”

–Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass






Free Fiction Tuesday?: The Parish by Crystal Connor

The Parish

by Crystal Connor

The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness.

It was the middle of winter, the power was out, and it wasn’t coming back on. Father McAllister was troubled. He dipped his finger in the baptismal font and crossed himself. As he walked through the nave, he began to pray.

“My Lord God, through whom strength is made perfect in weakness, I pray to you, give me the strength I need.”

Though there was a town sheriff, the people of Mount Springwalk had always looked to Father McAllister for the law.

It wasn’t an angel that flung the earth into darkness. It was the sun. The geomagnetic storm was the largest ever. Most of the electronics on the planet had been wiped out.

Only the oldest of cars would start, but that was the least of the problems, as all the gas pumps were controlled electronically. No one could make any phone calls, and the Internet was fried.

The records stored at banks, which depend on both power and telecommunication to synch ATMs were forever inaccessible, the money within never again to be recovered. Commerce came to a screeching halt.

Though Christ had yet to return, this digital disaster was nothing short of a technological Armageddon. It was predicted that within a year, the vast majority of world’s population would freeze, starve, or die from disease. Father McAllister began to weep.

His tears were for humanity as a whole, but his heart was breaking for those in his parish. His back was in constant pain from being bent in supplication and his fingers were chapped from the speed with which the prayer beads moved through them.

On the third day of darkness, at the town meeting, the pharmacist was moved to tears when she explained how quickly her inventory would become dangerously low. Young Billy Johnston needed insulin, and dear Martha needed medical-grade oxygen. She breathed more easily in the winter but seasons change.

Father McAllister stopped at the ambry and removed the first of the three sacred oils: the oil of catechumens. He anointed himself with strength and courage.

“You have said, that for your children who have no might, you will increase strength. I am weak. Bless me with a measure of strength as may be sufficient for me.” pleaded the cleric.

Unfortunately, and luckily for Billy, his diabetes was type two. The doctor calmed the pharmacist’s fears by explaining that Billy should be OK now that his access to high- fructose corn syrup and chocolate was cut off, and Martha would be ok too, because no more cars, combines, tractors, or factories meant no more greenhouse gases. And whether you believed in the science or not, he challenged everyone (but mostly Fred), you couldn’t deny that the air already felt cleaner. With an involuntary deep breath, everyone silently agreed.

There were others at Mount Springwalk’s town meeting. The mayor from the neighboring town of West Fortbury and his wife were in attendance as well.

There was a problem. The teenaged and young adult population of Mount Springwalk was mostly girls, whereas in West Fortbury, they were boys. “If we wish to survive beyond the winter,” the mayor suggested with a flushed face, “we need to let nature take its course. After the laughter stopped, the direness of their situation settled in.

Their concerns were for more than just the children. They had no more water. The mayor explained that their high school science teacher warned that drinking reclaimed water from snow was dangerous but no one believed him until people got sick.

Mount Springwalk had a creek with enough semi-fresh mountain water to share.

The new housing development on the other side of Main Street had been completed last year, but due to the economy, 80% of those homes remained unoccupied. More importantly, all those homes were built with wood-burning fireplaces. With a yea or nay vote, it was decided that the entire populous of West Fortbury would be relocated. On the ninth day of darkness, Mount Springwalk, Father McAllister’s parish, would be the home for 2,100 residents.

The canned meat and fish would only last three months, while the charcoal for the grills would be gone in three days. Rita LaRowe, the owner of the general store, said that she had enough canned goods to ensure that every family, including the newest members from West Fortbury, would be able to have one can of vegetables or one can of fruit to go with one meal for the next 18 months.

One can of vegetables for an average family of four. The well from which Father McAllister’s tears flowed was self-replenishing.

The pastor once again thanked God that the woods surrounding them had game – deer and pheasant – and that the Emmit girls were so sinfully accurate with an arrow. The three of them liked to call themselves Amazonian goddesses. Father McAllister voiced his concerns about the paganism but was more than grateful for the meat.

Two years ago, the Anderson and Copper families tore down the fence that separated their properties, and together planted a large vegetable garden. The Amish, who descended upon Mount Springwalk with heavy quilts on the eve of the second frozen night, promised to show the community how to can food if they made it to the spring.

Though Father McAllister was hurt that the Amish, whose way of life was not devastated by the storm from the sun, refused to integrate his parish within their community, he was more than thankful for their blankets and the promise of knowledge.

The loyal servant of God once again thanked the Lord for the creek.

His congregation was able to use that water to flush the toilets and, after boiling it, to bathe and cook with.

The charcoal wasn’t really a problem either, as the stronger men in the community began to harvest the alpines around them and deliver bundles of wood to the residents as if they were the morning papers. If they could just get through the winter. Please, dear God, Father McAllister prayed, grant us another spring.

“When I am tempted by evil, deliver me by granting me the power to overcome it. When my daily work is too hard for me, give me the strength to be able to do it.”

He prayed as his lit the first candle flanking the ambo. Fighting the perils of winter was the biggest obstacle his parish faced.

Until last night.

If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? John the Disciple once asked.

The Godless people of Brunspark had shown no pity. They crossed the boarder of Mount Springwalk with guns and pitchforks and fire.

Though he had not known it then, God had answered his constant prayer for strength by sending him the men of West Fortbury.

From the moment the Fortburys, as they were referred to by his original parish, arrived in Mount Springwalk, they began to fortify the town.

After adding what they had brought from their store and private pantries to Rita’s inventory, they began boarding up the windows of the general store and pharmacy from both the inside and out. All the weapons from the gun store were moved to the sheriff’s house, and they began patrols of the woods and water.

Armed patrols.

The pastor was alarmed at how quickly even the youngest Fortbury could become rowdy and belligerent. Father McAllister now understood the reservations felt by the Amish and wondered if his quiet and polite parish seemed just as barbaric in the eyes of their leaders as the Fortburys seemed in his.

“If my burden oppresses me beyond my bearing, lighten my load, that my strength may be equal to it. You have helped many; I beg you to help me.” The second candle was lit.

The town of West Fortbury was a military town with generations upon generations of veterans and at least two alleged war criminals. Those who did not fight abroad brawled in the bar.

The looters of Brunspark were unprepared to face a force with prior military experience and were now being held as prisoners in the barn. The men hung naked from the rafters and had been swinging there all night. Father McAllister understood their anger, God knew he did, but he reminded the members of his parish of the freezing temperature and suggested that they be clothed.

Even though there was a sheriff, the community of Mount Springwalk looked to Father McAllister for the law.

The former mayor of West Fortbury explained that terrorists, both foreign and domestic, did not get to enjoy the protection of the Geneva Convention. The sheriff agreed.

Father McAllister stepped up onto the ambo, comforted that from this elevated state, he would be nourished by the word of Christ. His silent prayer intertwined with his tears.

It was then that God whispered into Father McAllister’s ear.

“Gentle shepherd be at peace.”

The breath of the parish leader froze in his chest. Just as Gideon, Moses, Noah, and the others God had called before him, he was doubtful that the voice he heard was divine.

“Hesitant warrior, I am the Lord your Go. It is I who upholds your right hand and says to you do not be afraid; I will help you.” Father McAllister’s right hand rose above his head. He fell, trembling, to his knees. His vision was blurred with tears of gratitude.

“The wrongdoers, the thieves, and the covetous, will not inherit this kingdom that I have reserved for you. The wicked peoples of West Fortbury have built a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Father McAllister’s heart shattered for he knew the sins of Sodom were not sexual sins but sins of selfishness.

“Weep not,” said the Lord. “You are washed, sanctified, justified in the name of my son, your Lord Jesus Christ.”

Father McAllister could not carry a note in a bucket, but as he knelt weak with joy and overcome with comfort before his savior, the priest broke out into an old Negro hymn he had heard as a boy while walking past a black Christian church.

Until I die, I am gonna serve the Lord anyhow…

The rhythmic way in which the worshipers used their clapping hands and stomping feet as instruments sounded like the beating of African drums.

At eight years old, Father McAllister, just Joshua at the time, had never been inside a church. But that was the first time God had whispered into Father McAllister’s ear, and Joshua walked down the aisle of that church and was baptized: his first step in a lifelong journey of commitment and discipleship.

“I will deliver you from this domain of darkness,” God continued, “and transfer you to the kingdom of my beloved son. Let him who steals steal no longer; from the town of Brunspark, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Send them to stand before me so that they may be judged and sentenced.”

His tears were no more. His fervent prayers had been answered. He had been told what to do. Like the ancient Jewish leader marching toward the Promised Land Father McAllister knew that his parish would remain safe, as he would be more than able to defeat any enemy that dared challenge the army of the living God.

Armed with faith Father McAllister rose with Christ – and marched from the cathedral with the unbridled power of the word of God.


I got so much feed back from this story that I pulled it from the anthology (not really but figuratively) on the back burner with the goal of expanding this story. I got the opportunity a year later when another author (Lori Titus) and I joined forces to co-write a book. That didn’t happen, but what did was we created one universe and then wrote two stand alone books that takes place in that setting, in a town called Fates Keep, Mt. Empyreal. My version is called: In the foothills of Mt. Empyreal The End is Now  and the reviews can be read here:

Free Fiction Tuesday?: A Christmassacre Carol by Alex S. Johnson

A Christmassacre Carol

by Alex S. Johnson

(inspired by the album Slashing Through the Snow by Venus de Vilo and with apologies to Dickens)

Morley was dead. He had been tending this way for a long time, but now that winter snows swirled around his tombstone, the general report was that if he weren’t dead, he would be, at best, some kind of slavering, rotting ghoul to frighten little children already terrified by the advent of Christmassacre. Excepting, naturally, those fiendish tykes for whom the slaughter of their parents was a consummation devoutly to be wished and, indeed, prayed for.

Meanwhile, Urbangeezer Screwed was counting his money. Thanks to his miserly character, or so he believed, the money was more plentiful than ever in the year ________ in which our tale occurs. He had just dismissed his churlish assistant, Fob Crutchhead, who no doubt would waste Christmassacre in the foolish expenditure of glad tidings to all, yadda yadda. As far as Screwed was concerned, Christmassacre was a crumbug phonier than the holiday it had replaced.

“Bah,” said Screwed to the empty office, which echoed the word in a manner foreshadowing the specters that would shortly enter his life and change him forever.

“Whoo!” came a shivery voice from behind the curtains.

“Stop trying to scare me, Crutchhead. I’m not buying it and it won’t work. Go sell crazy elsewhere. And for the record, you can keep Christmassacre in your way, and I will keep it in mine, by ignoring its baneful existence and counting paper.”

“It is I, Morley,” the voice continued.

“Like hell it is. Come out, come out, wherever you are, and I’ll bite your bloody face off! I have no time for your foolish shenanigans.”

Screwed pulled his cap down over his bristly eyebrows and sighed. Every year it was the same nonsense, and if Crutchhead thought his silly annual prank would soften Screwed’s blackened old heart to the plight of Little Tomby, he had another thing coming. Plus, he suspected that Tomby wasn’t even Crutchhead’s real child, but an orphan he had plucked from the streets to earn sympathy.

“Seriously, mate, wake up and smell the moldy Christmassacre pudding!”

“All right, that’s it.” Screwed threw down his ledger and headed towards the window, which was fake and opened on nothing more than the sub-office where he kept the jewels and important papers.

“That’s the last mess you’ve made that I have to clean up!” shouted Screwed at the window. “Disrespecting the employer that’s kept you in geese for the past decade, defying my desire not to celebrate the worst idea for a holiday since the Yanks foisted Thanksgoony upon us, and…you are so freaking fired.”

Screwed pursed his lips in a refinement upon the fowl’s sphincter Crutchhead would not be enjoying this Christmassacre, or any to come.

Suddenly the air grew cold, and Screwed shivered, wondering at the sheer gall of his soon-to-be-ex-employee. “That tears it,” he roared. “Do you know how much hot air costs? Do you have any idea how much I have scrimped and saved and sweated over a hot ledger simply to sustain your reeking carcass, long may it burn in Hell?”

“I’m afraid you are late for that particular pity party,” said Morley.

The excrement was about to manifest in a most tangible way.

Screwed rubbed his eyes at the apparition that suddenly appeared before him, all clanking chains and a white sheet that Screwed was fairly sure had been stolen from his bed a fortnight ago.

“Are you taking the piss?” Screwed ejaculated. The ghost smirked at the author’s deliberately ambiguous use of an antique synonym for “quick verbal utterance.” And even supposing another meaning was intended, the ghost had no physical form and thus would be spared any bothersome stains upon his person.

“Seriously, though, it’s you, Crutchhead, innit.”

Morley removed his jaw and placed it on Screwed’s desk.

“Okay then, maybe you are a haunt come to address my so-called wrongdoings,” Screwed sputtered. “Well, get on with it. I don’t have all night.”

“I am the ghost of Christmassacre past, passing and to come,” said Morley.

“What, all three?”

“I thought you would appreciate the economy of it.”

“So…you’ve finally taken a cue from the old man. Ha ha, I get it. Very amusing. Well, do you have any other tricks up your sleeve?”

“I’m so glad you asked,” said Morley. “Fortunately for you, my sleeves are empty.” To demonstrate, Morley rolled the sheet past his skeletal forearms.

“And now to the meat of the thing. So to speak. First, I must warn you that anything you say in your own defense will be turned against you on the final Day of Reckoning.

“Second, you don’t want to traipse down the primrose path that led me to these”–Morley shook his chains–“and these”–he rattled his skull-faced manacles–and this“–but decorum forbids more explicit description of the latter horror lodged in Morley’s rear; or what might have been his posterior had he flesh.

Which he didn’t, being a ghost.

You get the idea.

“I’ll shorthand this. Change your wicked ways and stop being such an infernal ass hat, or you will suffer the same fate as me, only worse, because compared to you I’m a bloody angel. Excuse me.” Morley shrugged off the bedsheet; in its place was a pair of fiery wings.”

“Now that’s impressive. Not. Can you tell I’m being sarcastic?”

“Fine. Now hear this: if you maintain your attitude toward Christmassacre and all the joys it represents, you will spend eternity in Hades. Some blokes like to dub it Hell; I much prefer…”

Pommes du terre frites?”

“Mmm-hmmm.” The ghost shook himself and pounded his skeletal hand against the wall in frustration. In life, he had enjoyed more than anything else this French delicacy. Now, he didn’t have the literal stomach for it.

“In conclusion, I present to you the most dreadful sight imaginable. Hold on.” Morley’s wings vanished. Suddenly he stood encased in a cube of gelatin.

“You’re a self-righteous, money-grubbing slimebag of the first water, and for your crimes you will be held prisoner in the jellied hooves of those nags you rode to death in life. And I am so out of here.”

With those words, the ghost disappeared.

“That’s it?” said Screwed. But even as he uttered these syllables, he felt the moist grip of death upon him.

“Wait…wait. Hold on a second.”

“You are Screwed, old man,” came Morley’s voice from the ceiling.

“Don’t I get another chance at redemption? I can change my ways any time. ‘Satan bless Christmassacre and Little Tomby, every one.'”

Morley sighed. He was duty bound to reward sincere contrition with a stern rap on the knuckles and a Get out of Hades Free card.

“Your repentance isn’t credible, but what do I know? I’m just a book-keeper.”


“Before I came into your employ, I spent some time as a magician’s assistant.” Crutchhead emerged from the closet, his hand extended. “No hard feelings?”

“Yeah, well, you had me going there,” said Screwed feebly. “I give up. Maybe Christmassacre is a good thing. I don’t know. You wouldn’t happen to have some gin on you, by any chance?”

“Would laudanum serve?” Crutchhead produced a test tube full of a brownish liquid.

“Oh Hades yeah. Let’s get polluted and view Stereopticon pictures of unclad damsels.”


Free Fiction Friday: Griddlebone by Debbie Manber Kupfer

By Debbie Manber Kupfer
The werecat padded silently across the cobbles of the dark Vienna street. It was deserted now, but Griddlebone knew it would soon be filled with bootsteps and cries, gunshots and blood. They were slated to come at dawn, to cleanse this last Jewish neighborhood of its vermin, so that the proper folk of Vienna could finally live Judenfrei.
Inside the darkened houses, the residents huddled in fear. The news of the transport had only come hours before, and some still couldn’t believe it. They had been fooling themselves for months, believing this one insignificant street could survive in its own little bubble, that somehow God would protect them.They readied themselves with what few valuables they had left. Maybe they could still bribe the Nazi soldiers. Maybe there was still a way out.
The werecat flexed his claws, as he waited in the shadows. Griddlebone wished he could rescue them all, but his orders were clear. He could only take one. They needed to be the right age too – a teenager would be good, strong enough to fight, strong enough to survive the turning.As the first rays of light caught the cobblestones, Griddlebone felt the bootsteps echoing down the street. Soon. His tail swished back and forth in anticipation. Within minutes, the first soldier came into view. The werecat was all but invisible to the soldiers, his mottled grey coat blending perfectly with the cold grey street.At the same time as the first soldiers appeared on foot, a silver-grey truck arrived on the street and parked in front of the buildings, waiting for its human cargo.
As the Gestapo soldiers marched past the werecat’s hiding place, he longed to dig his claws into their ankles, to hear them scream with pain. Not yet, Griddlebone, not yet.
The soldiers reached the first house. They banged on the doors.

“Juden, Heraus, Heraus! Schnell, schnell! – Everybody out of there, quickly, quickly.”

At first there was silence. Griddlebone held his breath, waiting. And then, slowly, they came out, squinting in the light of the dawn. They had been inside for so long, sitting in the darkness. They looked like ancient patriarchs held in suspended animation from biblical times. The man had a long white beard and was wearing a prayer shawl. The woman had her head covered and bent. She held out something to the soldiers. The werecat stole closer to get a better look. It was a silver candlestick. The frightened woman offered it to the soldier.

The soldier laughed. He grabbed it and shoved in his bag, then roughly pulled the old woman forward. She tripped and fell onto the hard cobble street. The soldier kicked her, and she cried out in pain. Throughout this, her husband was bobbing up and down in prayer, praying that God would take them before these Nazis did. His prayers were not answered, and the soldiers forced the old couple into the waiting truck.

More soldiers had arrived now and pushed their way into the buildings. The next house held a young family, a mother and father, with two small terrified children. The mother clutched a baby girl in her arms. As they boarded the truck, the baby started crying. The nearest soldier grabbed her from her mother’s arms and flung her with full force into the solid concrete wall. The baby stopped crying. The mother screamed. A Nazi soldier silenced the mother with his gun. The father and his remaining children climbed quietly into the truck, trying not to look back.

The werecat stalked over to the baby. He nudged her gently with his nose, but it was too late, and, in any case, how would his clan have been able to care for a baby? They could barely find enough food for their own kittens these days.

Griddlebone continued watching the parade of Jews being evicted from their buildings. They had been told they were being rehoused, that their homes were needed for the war effort. As patriotic Austrians, surely they understood?

Griddlebone knew that most of these Jews would end up in the concentration camps, if they even survived the transport. A second shot filled the air; a young man this time. He had tried to run, but the soldier had used him for target practice.

Still the werecat watched and waited.


Read the rest of the story in Sins of the Past –

Debbie Manber Kupfer grew up in London and lived in Israel, before somehow ended up in St. Louis, where she works as a puzzle constructor and writer. She lives with her husband, two children, and a very opinionated feline. She is the author of P.A.W.S and Argentum and has short stories in several anthologies including Fauxpocalypse, Shades of Fear, Darkly Never After, Sins of the Past, and Heroes & Villains. She also created the puzzle book, Paws 4 Logic together with her son, Joey. She believes that with enough tea and dark chocolate you can achieve anything!Links:
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